The Jefferson Street School building in Old Town. Credit: Gabor Degre

The Jefferson Street School, built more than a century ago in Old Town, is up for sale again, and city officials are hoping a buyer will repurpose the historical structure to include housing.

The city’s intention is to find a developer whose plans “complement the community,” Economic Development Director Ron Harriman said. “A number of commercial uses could be appropriate,” he said, adding that a combined residential and commercial use would likely work best.

City officials will favor a proposed project plan if it provides even a moderate percentage of market rate residential units, commercial space or both, and preserves the building’s historical appearance while contributing positively to the socioeconomic impact of the area, according to a request for proposals, which was distributed Monday.

The 26,000-square-foot building was built in the 1890s and served as the high school until the 1950s, and later served as an elementary school until 2003, Harriman said. The Southern Penobscot Regional Program, which serves students with emotional and behavioral challenges, was located in the building for about a decade until the program relocated in 2014 to Bangor. Later that year, the city unsuccessfully tried to find a developer and sell the building.

Old Town eventually purchased the 3-acre plot of land and the vacant building and has invested money to make environmental upgrades over the past four years, such as removing asbestos and lead paint.

“We’re not looking for a lot of money for the building, we just want a good plan,” Harriman said. Tearing it down would be a last resort. “We want to keep the doors open,” he said.

Bids can be submitted until Wednesday, Aug. 1.

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